Time-lapse video taken from International Space Station orbiting Earth at night

It's worth watching the HD version in fullscreen mode.

A time-lapse taken from the front of the International Space Station as it orbits our planet at night. This movie begins over the Pacific Ocean and continues over North and South America before entering daylight near Antarctica. Visible cities, countries and landmarks include (in order) Vancouver Island, Victoria, Vancouver, Seattle, Portland, San Fransisco, Los Angeles. Phoenix. Multiple cities in Texas, New Mexico and Mexico. Mexico City, the Gulf of Mexico, the Yucatan Peninsula, Lightning in the Pacific Ocean, Guatemala, Panama, Columbia, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, and the Amazon. Also visible is the earths ionosphere (thin yellow line) and the stars of our galaxy.
Time-lapse video taken from International Space Station orbiting Earth at night (Via Laughing Squid)


  1. Bah. My heart bleeds for the vampires and goths. On the other hand just think — if we had polluted ourselves past the ability to see, there wouldn’t BE any space program.

    1. There’s a lot to wonder about in that idea… if the stars were obscured before even our ability to pollute, say by extra cloud cover, what impact on religion?  Would agriculture have been harder to develop?  Navigation?

      And while on the questions, why isn’t there a live stream of this gob-smacking view?!

  2. We’ve been in space for how long and this is the first time-lapse around the globe?
    NASA needs a marketing team.

    1. Wanna see Enceladus, Titan, Saturn, Io, oh and the other moons of a single planet.  Saturn.  Then there’s Jupiter, Venus, Mars (with twitter feed) Voyager just left the solar system.  Probably launched when you had no idea of continence, but hey, still going strong.

      “You want links?  You can’t handle the links!”


  3. While light pollution is definitely a problem for stargazers, in reality the cities we see don’t shine as brightly as in the video. Each frame is a photograph taken with longer exposure than normal, meaning that more light is absorbed and comes out starker in the photo.

    These cities are actually quite dim when seen with the naked eye, but it is nevertheless rather astonishing that we can see them at all.

    1. Like showing people nebulae through a telescope, and they expect to see Hubble images.  Only Saturn, Jupiter, and Mars are reliably impressive, even to the urban amateur astronomer.  I have to think that there would be more support for the space program if more people experienced truly dark skies.

      Exposure, post-processing and light pollution aside, the effect is here is hypnotically beautiful.

    1. It did for me too, and I’m not drunk. Agree with previous poster who wondered why this hasn’t been done before!

  4. The International Space Station can easily be spotted with the naked
    eye. Because of its size (110m x 100m x 30m) it reflects very much
    sunlight. The best time to observe the ISS is when it is night time at your
    location, but the Space Station is sunlit. Such a situation occurs often
    in the morning before sunrise or in the evening after sunset.

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